A Cook County jury awarded just over $33,000 to a former railroad supervisor who sustained a back injury from slipping on ice and snow at a rail yard.
Jurors tallied $66,150 in damages, which was reduced to $33,075 after they found plaintiff Jose Velasco was 50 percent at fault.
The verdict was reached last Wednesday after a two-week trial before Circuit Judge Ronald F. Bartkowicz.
On Feb. 9, 2015, Velasco, then a trainmaster, fell three times on ice and snow while supervising his crew at Canadian Pacific’s Galewood Yard on the city’s West Side.
At the time of the incident Velasco was wearing weather appropriate shoes, including spikes, while doing his supervisory duties outside.
He was treated “conservatively” for low back pain and post-concussive symptoms and argued, despite the treatment, his low back pain persisted, according to court records.
Raymond H. Groble III of Daley Mohan Groble P.C., who represented defendant Soo Line Railroad Co., argued at trial that Velasco was treated appropriately for his injuries and there was no “anatomical reason” for his continued pain.
The Soo Line is a Canadian Pacific subsidiary.
In March 2017, Velasco saw a pain doctor who determined he could only complete sedentary work, no more than eight hours per day, and no overtime, according to a firm issued news release.
Groble said Canadian Pacific has sedentary positions but they do require overtime. Velasco has not worked since the February 2015 incident.
Velasco’s attorney asked jurors award his client more than $3.9 million for his injuries, according to the release.
Groble also noted several of Velasco’s social media posts showed him attending rap music festivals across the country, including Minnesota and Texas, where he traveled by van and school bus.
Groble said Velasco’s complaints of pain and inability to return to work were inconsistent with his decisions to travel and spend “significant time” at a recording studio about an hour from his home.
“Canadian Pacific is very pleased that the jury understood the facts and the medical testimony, and followed the law in this very difficult case,” Groble said on his client’s behalf.
Velasco was represented by Scott C. Sands of Sands & Associates. He could not immediately be reached.
Soo Line was also represented by Matthew J. Hammer of Daley Mohan Groble P.C. and Christy M. Mennen of Nilan Johnson Lewis P.A. in Minneapolis.
The case is Jose Velasco v. Soo Line Railroad Co., et al., 15 L 11036.